The first time I ever went on a ferris wheel was when I was very young.
In those days, ferris wheels did not have gondolas enclosed in cages as they do now, nor windows or doors of any kind.
When my mother, sister and I climbed onto the gondola platform, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a picnic bench with a canopy, suspended from a hanging arm.
Everything was open to the elements. You could even see through the floorboards, and between the boards on the seat. This was not so bad when you were at the bottom but, once the gondola got way high on the wheel, seeing through those boards was scary.
This particular ferris wheel had been described as the largest in the southern hemisphere at the time. As it climbed to breezy heights, the only safety precaution was a thin metal bar closing the ‘gate.’ If you saw that contraption today, safety issues would come to mind. A child could easily fall through the space under the bar. It was a visual barrier, only.
Otherwise, the only warning we were given was to ‘remain seated’ and ‘don’t rock the gondola.’
Tell that to my mother and sister, who thought that ‘rocking the gondola’ was the most exciting fun to be had.
Way up high over our city, with breezy views for miles, and sitting on a picnic bench in the air, my mother and sister blew loud gales of laughter as they swung our gondola about as much as they possibly could.
My knuckles were absolutely white from hanging on, and if I hadn’t been so young at the time I’m sure my stiffened muscles would have been aching by the time I got off.
I really thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to fall off that flimsy bit of wood and splat to the ground.
I must have been completely ashen, but my mother and sister thought that my reactions were so funny they kept going the whole time we were on the thing – and we spent a very long time on the thing, way at the top of the wheel, (while the operator was obviously having a cup of tea in his safe cubicle on the ground…)
By the time I got off the ferris wheel, you could never get me back on one of them again. (I thought).
I refused every offer thereafter, year after year. By that time, I was also extremely afraid of heights. (Not to wonder, really).
When my own children grew old enough to attend the city shows, it was my husband who took them on the ferris wheel. I would proclaim that someone had to stay on the ground to look after the picnic bag, and I even took a small fold up stool to sit on while I waited through the event.
For them, going on the ferris wheel was a regular part of going to the city show. By the time they were going on the ferris wheel, though, the gondolas had been fully enclosed in cages. But I still could not bring myself to ride in one.
My children grew up and ferris wheels are no longer seen just at city shows or fairgrounds. Now they are sight seeing attractions and we have one installed beside the river in our city.
My daughter thought to surprise me with a treat for my birthday one year and bought the whole family tickets to ride.
How could I say no ? She had already bought the tickets !
So for the first time since I was a little girl, I got into a gondola on a ferris wheel . (The things you do for family…)
This one was fully enclosed in glass – a vestibule with airconditioning and cushy vinyl leather seats. But as soon as it swung away from the ground my heart started zooming and I felt the blood drain from my face.
I struggled to keep my eyes open, but I just couldn’t. They kept shutting their lids and I really had little control over them.
I prided myself on self-discipline, but no matter how many times I tried to open my lids to please my daughter by taking in the view, the dizzying height just got to me and they shut down.
I did get to see the city, in glimpses – but it was nothing like ‘taking in the view.’
The rest of my family laughed off the experience. They had a wonderful time, laughing and joking while I visibly ‘slept.’ But as the guest of honor for the trip it was obvious that I did not do the event justice. The length of time I was affected showed clearly how distressed I was, and that left a bad aftertaste by the time they all got off.
My daughter was the most affected. She was very upset that I wasted her gift by keeping my eyes shut almost every second of the trip. No explanation was enough.
I had never really told my children about my childhood experience with the ferris wheel, or how it had affected me, because I didn’t want my fears to rub off on them. I wanted them to have the same fun going on ferris wheels that my mother and sister had had – though I did always tell them not to rock the gondola.
So my daughter really didn’t know that there was anything wrong with her gift. All she had memories of was how much pleasure I got from seeing them going on the ferris wheel each year at the city show. She didn’t know that my pleasure was in knowing that my children were braver than I was, and that they were able to experience things I felt unable to experience.
No matter how close we get to others, we don’t always know their full stories. There are many reasons why people keep certain events secret from others.
And not all experiences can be therapised and got over. Sometimes, scars remain that will always be a sharp reminder of fear and terror, and less salubrious moments.
Talking about such bad experiences is not always good if you can’t find a way to manage them. Sometimes the best option is to just put them away and hope the dark shelf they sit on will never be found.
Such things can be like grief. Even years after you thought you had learned to cope without the people or things you lost, a tiny memory can trigger the grief of their loss, as if it was yesterday. All you can do with such feelings is move with them and through them.
You can face such feelings as often as you like, but they will never be completely numbed. When they come up again, the emotions attached are as powerful as if the events are ‘now’.
Bad experiences are really a form of grief, too. What remains is a sense of loss.
When I got on the ferris wheel as a child, I lost my sense of security. I lost my trust in the people who were close to me to really care for me and keep me safe. I felt that the only person I could fully trust with my life was myself, thereafter. And that, too, was a loss, because it caused a disconnect in the core of my relationships. No matter how close I got to people, they could always sense a part of me that was held back.
I have conquered my fear of heights enough to fly in an airplane, now – to stand at a mountain outlook to take in the view, and to cross a footbridge over a freeway – but I still cannot bring myself to enter a ferris wheel gondola again.
I did my best for that now past birthday event, but never again… I know my limits. And that is one of them.
If you’re wondering why my blogs have dwindled to a trickle, it’s because I am dealing with what feels like overwhelming personal issues right now.
These are of a level that rattle even the best inspirations and philosophies.
There is often a deep sadness that wells in my throat, my eyes, and my heart, and even as I try to manage it and realign to better modes, it is just there and is not going away, because the sadness is grief.
Because it is grief, it cannot be submerged or let go. It can only be lived through.
I can let go of the situations that caused the grief and put them into correct perspective. I can let go of the people who have now deliberately left my life and move on without them. But it is much harder to accept that a piece of my heart has died. It takes time for the ‘heartwood‘ to grow new ‘sap lines‘ for nourishment when the ‘tree‘ has been attacked.
There is an ash tree in my garden that was split in two by lightning in the last big storms we had. We propped up the split halves because there was still a joining at the base, and the branches on the split trunks still thrived with green leaves. But even with the propping, and hoping that the tree would bridge such a dramatic gap, nothing seems to be happening.
If we leave the tree like that and it doesn’t bridge the gap, the gap will fill with debris that will eventually rot the heartwood and bring disease to the tree. So now we have decided to cut off the part that needs to be propped, and to see if the part that is left will be strong enough to heal itself and keep growing.
The tree is already forever changed by the split. The scars are forever there even if we remove the part that can no longer stay up by itself.
Even in its new configuration, the tree will never be what it might have been, had it never been shattered by a lightning bolt event.
This is where I am at, too. The parts I am hanging on to are still thriving but can no longer be a real part of my life. If I keep trying to heal the wounds, all I will do is encourage disease. I have to let go. I have to remove the connections that would destroy me. And that is why I am grieving.
Of course, in all such scenarios, with a reduced form, there is the question of whether the ‘tree‘ will survive, anyway. But at least it is still standing – that half, anyway – and only time will tell. (And in the case of the ash tree, we will make good use of the wood, turning it into something beautiful, eventually – as all things past, good or bad, should become).
There are some who say that at times like these people should seek counseling or therapy, or some kind of healing, but truth to tell I have plenty of this. I am a ‘healer’, myself, so I know how to access healing. I am in touch with my ‘guides‘, so I have plenty of advice. I’m just not happy with the advice I’m being given, and I need time to grieve and time for ‘healing‘ to take effect.
In the past, I have seen other people for counseling and healing services. They like to say that it’s best to talk about things with others, to let the overwhelming feelings out, but in my lifetime I have learned that doing so is not always a good thing.
What I learned is that when I tell others of the darker things that have happened or are happening in my life, they may listen sympathetically to a point but then they begin to paint my character with the brush of darkness.
Even where the dark things have happened because of other people and events outside my control, and not because of who I am or what I did, I ended up being further victimized by the judgement the others I communicated with placed on me.
I’m not sure if that happens with everyone, but it does happen to me, and I have come to the conclusion that my empathic abilities imbue my words with such intense power that in the end this is all those who hear them remember. And when that intense power is focused on recalling the darkness that has beset me, then the darkness they feel in my words is all they are left with – not logic, not objectivity, and not compassion or sympathy.
I can rail at their misconceptions and misunderstandings but it does no good. Talking with others about the things that hurt me usually ends up just making the hurt worse. So I try to keep these private things to myself, these days. They’re not anyone’s business but mine. They are for me to deal with, alone.
As well, by focusing energy on those things at all, they become worse. Where the mind focuses, there is power. By focusing on the darker elements in my life, I give them power over me. And then my gut churns all day long.
I’m all for truth and facing the darkness, but the human mental and emotional bodies can only take so much. Such darkness needs to be in small doses, not a bombardment that lays you under persistent siege and wears you down. That’s when dis-ease sets in.
I’m older now. I have to take better care of myself if I am to live the life I want to live. There is no time to waste on negatives for long. But what can you do when, despite all your best efforts, events keep conspiring against you to bring you down?
The guidance I am given is to hang in there, and the future will be better. But the future is not now. The future does not deal with the pressure and pain I need to handle at this time, in this moment.
I have been trying to redirect my energies. But I’ve stopped working on creating things for our business at present, because I don’t want anyone else to pick up any of the pain and sense of helplessness I am going through.
Everything I create takes on some of the energy I create it with. I know that I will do more down the track, and that will be okay, then, but for now I need to get a handle on myself. So I am working with what already is, in the business, and am taking a short break from creating, at least for others.
On the other hand, I am halfway through another great artwork in my home, and now have streams of flying birds traveling in drifts and circles across the large ceiling space that spans my family room, dining area, and kitchen.
When I began it, my husband was concerned. He thought it would be ‘too busy.’ When I was halfway through attaching the vinyl cutouts that are the birds, I got concerned myself, thinking it was bringing the height of the ceiling down. But now all the birds are up, there is this great sense of movement and space, and energy. It’s a good thing. Not bad.
I’ve also been catching up on getting my rampant garden under control. It’s been good to rediscover its well laid plan and the plants that have thrived in our very wet summer this year.
I’m okay when I’m doing these things, until I remember those who are no longer with me – those who once shared these spaces, who I would have shared these activities with in conversation, who I enjoyed having in my life as loving companions… (at least, who I thought were loving companions). Then the sadness wells up from deep inside, again.
All will be well, eventually. My creative energies are strong. Truth to tell, not much has changed in my life, apart from having to face the fact that these were my love investments and my hopeful aspirations for the future of them, not theirs.
It is also hard to see those I love, who are still present in my life, suffering because of the actions of those who have left. But life is about change, and change is a constant even when you think you have established safety and security.
All life is a whirl. So I am waiting to see what happens, and leaving such motions in the ‘hand of destiny‘. I will do what I need to do, until my heart is once more feeling the fullest joy of life.
In one of my ‘guidance‘ sessions, I talked with Shiva. This vedic god is known for his blue throat, because he drank the poisons of the world to save creation from its own machinations.
In the strivings of life, as people try to find their own ‘nectar of the gods‘, they often stir up deadly poisons with their selfishness. And once that poison is set free, it cannot always be contained or dealt with, especially by those who released it.
They, too, can feel helpless that the actions they took to better themselves and their lives ended up releasing poison that could ruin everything.
The story of Shiva is that, by remembering that he is immortal and divine and not part of the destinies of the world or cosmos except by choice, he could make a sacrifice of himself by drinking the poison and removing it from the world – thereby ensuring that the goodness and prosperity that was sought was all that was left, and that those who brought it forth could enjoy it.
Sometimes, we have to make a sacrifice of ourselves so others can prosper.
That does mean accepting pain, because poison naturally brings pain with it. And it does mean becoming forever marked by the poison, just as Shiva has been forever marked. But just because you accept and take on the poison others send your way does not make you ‘bad’. Shiva remains pure even though he bears the ‘mark‘ of poisoning.
Accepting the poison being sent your way does not mean you are ‘bad‘ and they are not. It just means that deflecting or rejecting the poison does not help anyone, and neither does blaming those who send it. All that can be done with such poison is to transmute it.
I know people who deal with the curses of others by cursing back. But if you curse those who send curses, or rebound their curses back to them, their curses only escalate because they will be in even more pain and darkness, and acting upon their reactions to that.
The only way to remove a curse in action is to accept it and recycle its energy into something blessed. And by doing so, you bless the cursers and help them find the harmony and prosperity they need to stop cursing.
That does not necessarily bring them back to you as companions in camaraderie. Shiva spends most of his life alone, contemplating the cosmos, and only has a small circle of family to engage a worldly life with.
The joy in such sacrifice is not in bringing people back together who perhaps should not be together. The joy is in ensuring that the poisons will no longer harm anyone and that life can be the beautiful place it is meant to be for all.
So I will keep my darker stories to myself, and will deal with them in private, knowing I am strong enough to do so, and that with time and cosmic contemplation I will transmute them into a different energy.
Curses are just a manifestation of power and all power is neutral until shaped by a vessel of desire and intention. The same electricity that powers the kettle you boil water to brew a cup of tea with also powers the chain saw that cuts down a tree.
I will absorb the curses currently denigrating my life and use the power to create blessings – and then watch out for the run of ‘happy buddha beads‘ I make after that, because they will be absolutely superb !
Love and blessings to all those suffering in any way in this universe. Bear up. Keep your eyes open for the ‘fireflies in the darkness‘, lighting the way. The dawn is coming.
Death comes to us all, the saying goes, but how many of us really think about that as we go about our daily lives?
I have had death touch my life many times – through friends and relatives, children of friends, and pets. Death has come to each in various ways.
I also watched the multiple deaths and revivals my teenage son suffered after the accident that left him permanently disabled, and lived through a few of my own near death experiences from heart problems, extreme asthma and bronchitis, and surgery that went badly.
You’d think I should have a ‘handle’ on death by now, but I lost a beloved aunt to cancer recently and once again it has confronted me.
I realized that the confrontation came because we were estranged. I have not seen her for twenty years or more. She stopped wanting to have anything to do with me because of gossip in my family, and I waited years for her to change her mind.
She never did. So I moved on with my life without her in it.
There was nothing that could have been done to change that scenario. I feel that if people are determined to cut you out of their lives, even after they are aware of your truths, then they just don’t want you there, so it’s pointless to waste energy persuading them differently.
That knowledge didn’t stop me feeling sad at the ‘loss,’ which is an odd thing to say because in reality I lost her long ago.
My spiritual modes believe in reincarnation. I believe in life before and after death, in spirit being the driver of the human body avatar, and in immortality in divine form. So I can realign the loss to my philosophies and tenets and move through it, but that does not actually stop the pain that happens in the heart.
Grief comes to us all, because grief is not about death or dying, it is about loss. If we value what is lost, we miss it, and we can grieve for it.
For me, this loss is not so much the presence of my aunt in my life, but the wistful hope that one day things might be better between us. I am now confronted by the knowledge that things can never be better now, that her human body is vacated and that her spirit will not return in that form in this lifetime.
Reincarnation does not deal well with grief. Grief is relevant only to this world, and the here and now, not to the cycles of life in the cosmos. My aunt’s body is dead and gone. Reincarnation is not bringing her back to me in this lifetime, even if I meet her in another.
It doesn’t matter how enlightened you are, or what you do or do not believe in, loss is always difficult to deal with. Realignment comes later. The heart needs to sing its dirge first.
I have long promoted acceptance of death as being part and parcel of life. I have long felt that all people should think of death well before it happens, so that they do all they wanted to do before it comes. Yet life does not always afford us the opportunities for closure. Many times, we simply have to move on with the heartache and pain until it eventually dissipates.
In the days of yore, when death was a far more common threat to existence through wars and pestilence, and people rarely lived long enough to develop wrinkles, it was accepted as part of the natural fragility of life.
Those people did not have science, technology, and medical miracles to give them hope that life could be repaired or extended.
It is only because these things exist in our society that we feel such shock when those around us die, because we have been led to believe that it is possible to live at least into our seventies, or even to a hundred.
Yet, in the not so long ago Victorian era, women rarely lived past the age of thirty – and while the media today is full of hope that we can all live for decades longer than our forebears, most people do not. Death in what we consider old age is still a rarity.
In medieval churches, scenes of death were painted on walls and ceilings, so that people could never forget the possibility, and would learn to cherish each day and not waste a moment.
In many spiritual faiths, death is honored with skulls representing the ancestors, their knowledge, experience, and wisdom, reminding us all that while the body is fragile, the mind and spirit live on.
As a pagan, I also honor the ancestors in the Feast of the Dead, for Samhain or Halloween, each year. It helps me align to the knowledge that death is part of life, yet is not the end of life – that the body is only one phase in the existence of spirit.
That knowledge does not stop me crying when I speak during the ritual of my deceased. Grief is present wherever there is focus on what we have lost.
I had a wonderful friend and mentor who lived into his nineties, and seemed as though he would live forever – but he didn’t. His favorite saying was that he would live till ‘tempis fugit‘ – till ‘time flies‘. I suppose that sums it up. We live in human form until our ‘time runs out.‘ Then we reawaken in another dimension.
My aunt lived to the ‘ripe’ age of seventy four. If you are a young person, you might say she ‘had a good innings’ and ‘lived to a fine age‘ – but if you are older, like me, you may think that she had ‘many good years still left in her’, and feel shocked that someone who is not too much older than yourself has been ‘kicked off the planet.’
What the knowledge of my aunt’s death did for me was to bring a confrontation with the fact that I was still placing some parts of my life ‘on hold’ waiting for changes to occur, that time and circumstance have shown are unlikely to ever occur. This is not just in the situation with my aunt, but also with others who were far closer to me.
Finally, I am able to put aside those notions and to get on with living my life.
Not that I wasn’t already living my life, but quite often when I was thinking I was doing that, I actually wasn’t.
For instance, as I was working, thoughts kept popping into my head about the people missing from my intimate circles, and those thoughts led to feelings of frustration and pain – never reconciled.
You can realign yourself from such modes, but it takes effort, and they keep coming back.
The same happened when I was spending time with loved ones who are still present. Having fun and delighting in their company brought to mind those who were no longer sharing such moments, and the same feelings of frustration and pain would cloud the beautiful times I was having.
It was something I had to forcefully ‘put down’, to assertively ‘thrust from my mind’, and to push for ‘presence in the moment’.
Something changed when I learned my aunt had died. I finally gave up. I suddenly realized quite starkly how old I am and that all I really have is this life to live (in this body), and I finally decided to fully live it, to ‘ditch’ any asides that waste energy on futility.
There is a certain peace in that. It’s not happiness or contentment, but a peace that comes from acceptance – and in that acceptance, I am finally able to fully commit to my own life, my own dreams and their manifestation, without diversion… (at least, I hope so).
Feels good for now.
The following is a poem I wrote many years ago. It was written about a male friend, then, but I have changed it to female for my aunt, and placed it here for my cousins and relatives who also miss her. It upholds my own beliefs.
SHE IS GONE, BUT NOT GONE
(Copyright, L. O. Hennig)
She is gone, but not gone.
She remains in your heart.
She is alive in every memory.
She touches you in each moment of grief.
She is lost, but not lost.
She has shed her body and mortal woes.
She soars in the land of spirit.
She travels among the stars.
She has traveled in this world with you.
Now she travels in the realm of the divine.
She has known life’s pleasures and sorrows.
Now she remembers soul’s bliss and freedom.
She was born, and lived, and died.
She is now born, and lives, and never dies.
She was contained within a feeble body.
She is now free to become the galaxy she can be.
She is missed, but not forgotten.
She is here, but can’t be touched.
She is loved and remains loving.
She can see what we cannot.
She is blessed in pure spirit.
She is blessed by love in heart.
She is blessed with immortality.
She now knows that only bodies part.
She is gone, but not gone.
She has shed her worldly tasks.
She has taken off her fleshy clothes.
She has taken off her masks.
You are here, but not here.
You will some day do the same.
You will return to your spirit home.
You will finish your worldly game.
She will be there to hold your hand again.
She will help you fly back home.
She will help you shed the last of fear
That you ever were alone.
Until then, when in the gray you call her
She will come and fill your space
With her gentle warmth of presence,
With her love and spirit grace.
Be thankful that your journeys
Through this life had intertwined.
Be thankful that you hugged and laughed,
And that on great love you dined.
She is not gone, nor ever was –
Her body is now the Earth,
But like a butterfly from a chrysalis
Her death was in truth a birth.
You grieve for hugs and kisses.
You miss her smiling face –
But you will one day dance the cosmos with her
As you swirl through time and space.
To all those who have lost someone dear, may your grief allow you to treasure every moment of loving their existence and bring you the peace of knowing the blessing of their life.
The vedic god, Shiva, is the god of creation and destruction.
I was once told (by my spirit mentor, the Rajadeva) that I am like Uma, who was Shiva’s second wife, (better known as Parvati), so I have made a special place for Shiva in my mind.
Most people in western society who aren’t familiar with the vedic gods tend to know the image of Shiva dancing the tandava or Nataraj(as shown in the picture, above), but even then may not fully understand what this image means.
Shiva is one of a triune of upper echelon gods and his cosmic task is to dance the cosmos into being, or into destruction.
In the Hindu view, Shiva is the god of yoga, who is able to transcend the human condition and the woes of the world, and it is believed that those who can meditate in the deepest trance-like states that Shiva attains can also achieve self-discipline and detachment, and therefore purity.
Shiva is one of the vedic gods who has had many worldly incarnations. During one of his incarnations, he married a lovely demi-goddess named Sati.
Sati ended up by killing herself in a fire after attending a family gathering that her husband, Shiva, had not been invited to.
(This is where the ‘ sati ‘ ritual comes from, where a widow immolates herself in a fire at the funeral of her husband – though the theme is not really related because Shiva was still alive when Sati killed herself).
She did so because she was ashamed of her family (who snubbed her when she came because she was married to someone they did not approve of) and distraught that despite her best efforts to prove Shiva’s worth to them, they continued to reject him just because he did not live his life according to their ways.
Sati mistakenly felt that she brought shame upon her husband because they were her relatives, so she killed herself in a gesture to honor him. When Shiva found out what had happened, his rage and distress bubbled over.
Now, when you are a god and that happens, powerful forces come into play. Shiva began to dance the tandava and under his stomping feet the whole universe began to disintegrate.
It wasn’t until the other gods came together in great force to plead with him that he finally saw sense and stopped dancing, allowing his grief and anger to settle.
Now, hearing this story, on one hand, you might commiserate with Shiva’s grief at losing his beloved wife in such a senseless way.
On the other hand, you might question how and why a god might lose his sense of responsibility and presence to such a degree that he would almost blindly bring the universe to its knees under his tantrum – especially when that god is one who is capable of extreme asceticism and detachment from events.
So you need to know that Shiva didn’t get to such a position lightly, or even under some unhappy instant trigger.
Before Sati killed herself in shame, Shiva had counseled her many times about her family’s attitudes toward him. He told her that he wasn’t really upset, that it had more to do with their character than it did with who he really was, and that she shouldn’t worry about it because it wasn’t affecting him at all.
Shiva was very wise and very cosmic in this attitude, and showed great generosity of spirit, as many do who follow spiritual paths and who do great deeds. But despite his best efforts and intentions, and the wisdom he gave to others, he could not contain himself when pushed too far.
Even gods have a limit to how much they can take. And even gods sometimes need a helping hand in realigning themselves to their inner truths once that ‘button‘ has been pushed.
Now, we humans tend to forget that when we aspire to be ‘perfect’ or ‘better‘ than we suspect we are. We rarely forgive others or even ourselves for throwing similar whammies or tantrums, no matter how relevant or with what justification they have.
People are often extremely judgmental about such things, possibly because, as Shiva’s tandava can be, such whammies can be dangerous.
When people feel threatened, they are extremely unlikely to put up with such modes, even if they are sympathetic to the reasons behind them. No one likes menace.
You’d think that these modes of rejection of inappropriate or menacing behavior would be par for the course in the realm of responsibility inhabited by the gods, too, wouldn’t you? But the fact is that gods and goddesses, whether multiple or singular, have far different agendas and viewpoints to the often ‘black and white‘ assumptions of human beings.
Read just about any story on the modes of a god or goddess, in any religion, modern or ancient, and at some stage you will find that they pretty well do as they please a lot of the time, even if that does hurt the humans they are apparently there to protect.
I’m not saying that they are completely fallible or that they don’t aspire to do better or to serve those under their care – but let’s face it, Gods do have disagreements that lead to wars. Gods do fight wars. Life on planet Earth often suffers under collateral damage caused by the modes of the gods. Not even the christian god is exempt from causing suffering, or from sending plagues or destruction. Gods and goddesses are often more ‘human’ than humans !
Why then are we humans so bent on raising ourselves up to become like gods ? Why do we aspire to be so perfect when not even the gods are perfect, or even pretend to be ?
Gods believe they are perfect as they are. Their family and friends also believe they are perfect as they are. Or if they don’t, the same troubles can be inflicted on them in much the same way they are inflicted upon us (like in Shiva and Sati’s story of being outcast by her relatives simply because they didn’t really like who she married).
What does stand out when it comes to godhood is that gods are forgiving. So Shiva nearly destroyed the whole universe? Did it matter in the long run? No, not so long as he got ‘back on track’ and entered into creative and nurturing modes again.
Maybe being nigh on immortal helps them to maintain those modes. Let’s face it, they don’t die as often as we humans do, and they’re not so fragile. Perhaps they can feel more forgiving simply because they feel less under threat, and more able to accept the destruction of the universe because they know inside themselves that they are capable of reinventing it at any time…
I think there is much to be learned in the stories about the gods and goddesses for we human beings, though.
No one needs to be perfect to be acceptable. If we do break down under a load of stress and pressure, and do ‘wrong’ things for a time, that does not mean we are ‘bad’ people, necessarily.
Trying to live up to extreme standards set by ourselves or others is a mode prone to breakdown at some stage, because these are part of the basic themes of the universe – creation and destruction are cycles that alternate in the cosmos.
This may seem bad to those who build their lives on the illusion of security and permanence, but the fact is that nothing in life is ever truly secure or permanent. Change is a constant in the universe, on every level. Sometimes, it processes slowly, and sometimes rapidly, but change is inevitable.
As human beings, we rail against anything that threatens our welfare. It’s part of the law of survival that we protect our welfare, so we spend a heck of a lot of our lives trying to do just that, and despite the obstacles and challenges that often get in the way of truly establishing its security.
As elements of the mind of god, we, too, have a sense of power inside ourselves, including the power of destruction and creation. Perhaps we fear that power when we or others ‘go off the rails’, and thus imagine that more destruction than we can class as an acceptable loss may occur if such behavior is not curtailed?
In the image of Shiva dancing the tandava, you can see that he is atop a crouching demon. In Vedism, demons are not so much evil, as such, but are people who express extremes, where expressing extremes sets the cosmos to imbalance and chaos.
Under those modes, Shiva, himself, could be said to have temporarily become demon-like, when his tandava ‘span out of control‘, yet the other gods remained true to him. They trusted all they knew of him and did not frame their reference on one incident, even if that incident was extreme.
In the view of the universe, chaos is a necessary element of creation, and most things need to go through some degree of breaking down before they can be reconstructed in new and creative ways. So destruction is necessary for new forms of life to begin. Chaos is just the intermediary states that happen between the modes of integration – destruction – creation.
In the icon of the tandava, the demon beneath Shiva’s feet is saying that yes, deconstruction needs to occur before reconstruction or creation can happen, but ‘keep a hat on it‘ and don’t let things ‘get out of control‘.
It’s a warning – a reminder that the power of creation naturally holds the power of destruction, of which we must always be mindful lest the unleashing of that power becomes ‘blind and senseless’.
I don’t know many people who set out to be deliberately destructive. (I do know there are some in the world, but that’s another story). I do know, however, many brilliant, sensitive, kind and generous souls who were doing okay and were well received by others, until the moment when they ‘lost the plot’ momentarily (as Shiva did), and thereafter found their actions examined with a persistent element of caution, just in case they ever did it again.
Maybe that wariness goes with having ‘danced the tandava’ but for a human being, who does not have the generous mercy of the gods to uphold their spirit as Shiva did, that sort of wariness is undermining and degrades and disrespects the structure of all they built before the breakdown occurred.
I am in awe of the forgiveness and acceptance of gods when it comes to being merciful and kind to those who are, and have been, in all other ways magnificent beings. Gods know where their priorities lie.
Why should we keep kicking ourselves over an occasional or rare ‘whammy’ that has happened under extreme duress, when we have been pretty good human beings until then?
I had my own tandava, recently. It didn’t last long but it was a ‘sky rocket’. I’m over it now. Life goes on.